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PGA Tour U's Impact on the PGA Tour
There is now a direct pathway to the PGA Tour from collegiate golf - an effort to battle LIV Golf.
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Today At A Glance:
LIV Golf signed three players out of college for its 2022 season. With no direct pathway from college golf to the PGA Tour — it made economic sense for the three golfers to play in the nascent league. The PGA Tour has provided a direct pathway from collegiate golf to the PGA Tour. Protecting the pipeline of young talent is essential for the PGA Tour’s future growth.
Read Time: 6 Minutes.
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Hey Golfers —
The best player in collegiate golf will be awarded a PGA Tour membership after the NCAA Championships in three weeks.
Ludvig Aberg from Texas Tech is leading the points race and has a good chance to play on the PGA Tour next month.
PGA Tour U was introduced in 2020 in an effort to build a pipeline of young stars to the PGA Tour. Here are the quick details of PGA Tour U when the program was announced.
Top 15 collegiate players earn status on various tours
Top 5 collegiate players earn status on the Korn Ferry Tour
Players 6 — 15 earn status on PGA Tour Canada
A player must play on an NCAA Division I program and compete for four years collegiately to be eligible.
But PGA Tour U has changed — for the better.
Here was the problem — LIV Golf started poaching collegiate stars with financial guarantees. Taking talent away from the PGA Tour pipeline could significantly diminish the future of the PGA Tour.
Three collegiate golfers joined LIV Golf for the 2022 season. All three golfers are still on active rosters playing the 2023 season.
Eugenio Chacarra left Oklahoma State early to join LIV Golf. Not including signing bonuses — he made over $6.9 million last year for playing in eight events—just over $850,000 per event. Eugenio made enough money on LIV Golf to put him at 5th on the PGA Tour money list for the 2022 season.
In thirteen total events — Eugenio Chacarra has made nearly $9 million playing for LIV Golf. It would put him inside 250 on the all-time money list on the PGA Tour — ahead of players like Ricky Barnes, Darren Clarke, and Jim Herman.
James Piot played at Michigan State and won the U.S. Amateur. He earned $1.93 million after playing in nine events during the 2022 season. James had just one top-20 finish — a 6th place in Bangkok. His $1.9 million earnings were $300,000 better than the PGA Tour average and would have placed him 69th on the PGA Tour money list in 2022.
David Puig played at Arizona State and left early to join LIV Golf. While he earned $405,000 in 2022 — playing in just four events averaging a little over $100,000 per event.
Will these three players eventually become stars in professional golf? Only time will tell — but the PGA Tour needed to implement changes to compete with the massive dollars LIV Golf was offering.
PGA Tour U is now providing a direct pathway to the PGA Tour.
Rather than the best collegiate player heading to the Korn Ferry Tour, they will head to the PGA Tour. The Tour believes a player will get 14 starts before the end of the PGA Tour season.
From a money standpoint, it is enormous for the player.
In 2022 — the average earnings on the Korn Ferry Tour were $72,000 versus the PGA Tour average of $1.62 million.
Just looking at it from a pure money standpoint. College players that went to LIV or are entertaining LIV makes sense. Playing in one LIV event and getting last place would earn a player $50,000 more than the Korn Ferry Tour average in 2022.
But now, offering the top collegiate player a spot on the PGA Tour makes it more difficult for LIV to poach a player.
Here are additional changes PGA Tour U implemented for the 2023 year.
Players 2 — 5 receive exempt Korn Ferry Status
Players 6 — 10 receive conditional Korn Ferry Status
Players 6 — 20 receive status on PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica
During the 2022 season, the sixth-best collegiate players received status on PGA Tour Canada. In 2019 — the average earnings on PGA Tour Canada were a little over $10,000.
So the sixth-best player in college was not rewarded with commensurate financial opportunities. That has now changed by providing conditional status to the Korn Ferry Tour.
Providing a little context. And I understand there are many differences between the PGA Tour and NBA.
The sixth overall draft pick in the NBA will make around $5 million the first year in the league. The NBA does ten times the revenue as the PGA Tour, so don’t get too hung up on the first-year salary yet.
The average salary of an NBA player is $9.7 million. The sixth overall draft pick will make a little more than 50% of the NBA average in the first year.
Previously — the sixth-best college golfer would be playing on PGA Tour Canada. Now the golfer has the opportunity to get Korn Ferry starts and earn significantly more money. And while it won’t be 50% of the PGA Tour average — it is closer than last year.
The Korn Ferry Tour had two golfers make nearly $500,000 in 2022, and the winner now receives $180,000 per tournament versus $135,000 in 2022.
Have the PGA Tour U changes helped keep LIV Golf from poaching players?
LIV Golf hasn’t been able to sign a collegiate player since the new rules were implemented. If LIV doesn’t sign a golfer coming out of college in the next three to six months, I would expect the PGA Tour to be happy with the progress.
Have yourself a great Monday. Talk to you next week!
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